The Beginning of the Gospel
Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head…

These words have been appropriately called the "Protevangelium," the first gospel. At first sight it seems strange that these words should be considered the beginning of the gospel. The form is not that of a gospel but of a curse. It is the first curse that we meet with in reading the Bible. But think a moment. On whom, on what is it a curse? It is a curse on the great adversary of mankind. It is a curse upon evil — on sin, and death and hell. It is a curse upon our curse. You will observe, and it is well worth noticing, that there is no curse pronounced upon the man, nor upon the woman either. But can the gospel come in the form of a curse? It can — nay, it must. There are those who, shutting their eyes to the terrible fact of sin with all its dreadful consequences, as they are seen in the world, please themselves and try to please others by preaching a gospel of easy good nature, of love and mercy and goodwill to all mankind — a sort of universal salvation on the easiest terms possible, or without any terms at all. But sin and its terrible consequences are fearful facts that cannot be ignored. "Love is the fulfilling of the law," and the end of the gospel; but hatred — hatred of sin — is the only portal to true, and pure, and holy love. When the Spirit, the Comforter, comes, what is the first thing He does? He convinces of sin (John 16:8, 9).

I. As soon as we look at it, we recognize, speaking generally, A GREAT CONFLICT ENDING IS VICTORY. Of this conflict there is a threefold presentation.

1. First, there is a personal conflict: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman." Here it is worth while to notice that the Hebrew tense admits of a present as well as a future interpretation. So it is not only, "I will put enmity"; but, "I am putting and will put enmity between thee and the woman." The work is begun. The unholy alliance, into which Eve had been beguiled by the Evil One, is already broken. She is already a changed woman. She is no longer on the serpent's side. She is on the Lord's side. There is enmity between her and the serpent.

2. After the personal comes the general conflict: "Enmity between thy seed and her seed." What is meant by the two "seeds"? We would not have very much difficulty in guessing, but we are not left to guess work. We are very plainly told in the later Scriptures. For example, in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John, the Jews had been congratulating themselves on belonging to the promised seed — "We be Abraham's seed" (verse 33). Our Saviour said, in reply: "I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill Me." That is a strange thing for Abraham's seed. You may be Abraham's seed literally, but certainly not spiritually. "They answered and said unto Him: Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them: If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham." Notice how distinctly He recognized the spiritual sense of the term, not the literal. "If ye were Abraham's children ye would do the works of Abraham." "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning. That is the reason ye seek to kill Me." Or turn to Matthew 23:33, where, addressing the same kind of people, the Saviour says — "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers" (i.e., ye seed of the serpents), "how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" Or take the parable of the tares (Matthew 13:38): "The good seed are the children of the kingdom. But the tares are the children of the wicked one." Perhaps most definite of all is a passage in the 3rd chapter of the 1st Epistle of John. Read from the 8th verse: "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." Then follows something like a definition of the two seeds. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one and slew his brother." You see how plainly it is stated that the seed of the serpent are those who follow the deeds of the serpent; they are those who inherit the wickedness of their father the devil, as it is put here. And, of course, if the seed of the serpent are those who inherit the wickedness of the evil one, the seed of the woman are those that inherit the saintliness of the woman. It is as plain as anything can be, that it is the spiritual, and not the literal, seed that is meant; that character is in view, and not simple descent.

3. Not only is there a personal and a general conflict, but there is a special one. "Thee and the woman" — personal. "Thy seed and her seed" — general. "It" (or he, because the pronoun is masculine) "shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" — special. Now, I do not say that Christ is very plainly indicated here. The time had not yet come for this. The hope of the coming personal Saviour was only gradually unfolded. But I do say that certain lines are drawn which, when produced, are found to converge on Christ, who occupies the point of sight, away on the distant horizon. Observe, further, that it is only at this point that victory comes in: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman," only conflict there; no victory. "And between thy seed and her seed," only enmity, no victory. But come to the point of sight, and there is not only conflict, but victory — "He shall bruise thy head." Apart from the Captain of our Salvation, there was nothing for us but defeat. Though victory is finally assured to all the true seed of the woman, it will be His victory, made theirs by faith.

II. Let us now look at THE FACTS IN HISTORY, TO WHICH THE PROPHECY POINTS, AND WHICH CONSTITUTE ITS FULFILMENT. In the first place, we see the development of this conflict right along from the time of its first beginning; "from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias, slain between the temple and the altar"; and from the days of the first martyr, Stephen, down to the present time, when in heathen lands converts still must seal, at times, their testimony with their blood, and when in Christian lands "those that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer" certain kinds of persecution, and keep up a constant conflict with the powers of evil. The conflict will go on, and will not cease until the last of Satan's captives shall be rescued from his grasp and brought as sons to glory; when there shall be the great gathering of the people around Shiloh, the Prince of Peace, the Captain of our Salvation. But of all that long conflict, the crisis, the decisive action, is that to which our attention is specially called in the prophecy — the conflict that the Lord Jesus had to wage against the powers of darkness and the machinations of evil men when He was here upon the earth. Our Saviour, having taken our place, had this warfare to fight all through His life. Have you not often asked yourself the reason of the great difference between the death of the Lord Jesus and the death of so many martyrs, who endured unheard of tortures without flinching or uttering a cry? Had the Master less courage than the servants? Was He less able to endure suffering than Stephen, or any of the martyrs? Oh, no! It was because He had sufferings to bear that none of them had any knowledge of. He had their battle to fight as well as His own. As the Captain of their Salvation and ours, He stood in the front and thickest of the battle, and by His strong agony gained the victory for them and us. Now that He has gained the victory, that victory is secured for all the rest, who may well face death in any form bravely, now that the Captain of their Salvation has conquered all its terrors for them. It is secured for all the seed; and we have a picture of its consummation in the book of Revelation, where is celebrated in thrilling imagery the final victory of the saints of the Lord "by the blood of the Lamb." But while victory has been secured for us, it must also be accomplished in us. There must be a conflict and a victory in every human heart. There is not only the special conflict, which the Lord Jesus so victoriously waged, and the general conflict ending so triumphantly for all the seed, but there must be a personal conflict in each individual soul.

(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

WEB: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel."

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